The Underrated State Park In Utah With Otherworldly Scenery Like Zion Without The Crowds

Many people flock to Utah every year to explore the Mars-like desert in the Red Rocks Reserve, which spans 62,000 acres. The area is protected to ensure the safety of the desert tortoise and its habitat, which first began to form 183 million years ago. Within the beautiful sandstone reserve are 7,400 acres making up Snow Canyon State Park, which isn't nearly as well known as the more popular Zion National Park, located roughly an hour away. Numerous trails in Zion National Park are only for experienced hikers, but Snow Canyon is more diverse, offering options for every type of hiker.


Snow Canyon State Park welcomed 954,572 people in 2023, while Zion National Park saw significantly more at 4.62 million visitors. The desert parks in the region are busiest in the spring, fall, and winter when the temperatures aren't like being in an inferno, as they are in the summer months. Zion National Park is one of the most crowded parks in Utah, and it's probably going to see its visitor counts continue to increase, and nothing can ruin the excitement of experiencing a beautiful place in nature like people pushing each other to pose for photos or waiting in long lines. Luckily, Snow Canyon State Park is less crowded and every bit as majestic as Zion National Park.

The problem with crowds and parking at Zion National Park

Zion National Park is beautiful and worth checking out, as long as you're okay with crowds. Snow Canyon State Park, on the other hand, gives its visitors equally magical views with room to breathe. It isn't that it's an unpopular park, of lesser quality, or anything of the sort. It's just much more relaxing to experience the trails and sights on your own terms and not hurry through out of respect for the hoards of people behind you also wanting a look. Zion also has a parking mess before you even reach the park, which can be really confusing for new visitors.


Limited parking for Zion National Park is located at the Visitor's Center and the Nature Center, but it's best to get there early since the spaces go very fast. The only other way to get to the park if parking isn't available is by parking in Springdale and either walking or taking the free shuttle to the park's entrance. After paying, you will need to take another shuttle to the area you wish to see. At Snow Canyon State Park, there is no such hassle to park or get to where you are headed on the trails and beyond. You simply park, pay at the park's entrance, grab a brochure with a park map, and you're off to have an adventure. Just be safe and prepared if you're on a solo journey

Sandstone and serenity over popularity

Within the confines of Snow Canyon State Park are more than 38 miles of hiking trails, 15 miles of horseback riding trails, and another three miles of paved wheelchair and bicycle-accessible trails. The trails lead to a number of remarkable sights like the 180 million years old petrified dunes, panels of rock art from long ago and petroglyphs, and the evidence of volcanic activity with lava fields and cinder cones. The many shades of red, orange, and cream make up the phenomenal Navajo sandstone in every direction with its carved-out trails, like the easier Jenny's Canyon Trail, which guides visitors through a shady slot canyon. For an educational hike, check out the Hidden Pinyon Trail, which includes a guide at the trailside kiosk along with metal signs pointing out the unique geology and plants along the trail.


Throughout Snow Canyon State Park, you will be in awe of these natural wonders, formed over millions of years. It might even make you feel small as it highlights Earth's constant changing and evolving. This is one place you'll want to be able to wrap yourself in the serenity of nature. Perhaps on your next trip out to Utah, you'll stop in the enchanting Snow Canyon State Park, with so much to see and experience and wave as you marvel over the wonders of Zion National Park as you drive past.